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BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTION

SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

There will be THREE openings on the Tonawanda City School District Board of Education for the May 21, 2019 election. There will be five candidates running to fill the seats:

Lindsay Dzielski

Danielle Opalinski

Elizabeth Koch

Jeff Thorp

Daniel Calabrese

Biographies will be posted here as they are submitted.


Lindsay Dzielski

What is your reason for running?

My goal is simple.... to focus on the "whole child". My reason for running is simple... I am running not only for my children but all the children in our district. To give them educational experiences that not only advance them academically, but as an individual (social, emotional and physical). I believe in the “whole-child” and that each child has unique interests and skills that need to be nurtured. I believe the arts are just as important as academics. I believe getting children outside again is the most important thing we can offer children to aid in their mental health. I believe in community and building a safe place for children - where they are provided opportunities that may not be available at home. I’m running for change. To change how school is seen by children, to change how school is seen by parents… I’m running for change in how our children can benefit from school.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from North Tonawanda High School in 2001. I went on to Daemen College where I received two degrees, a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Education. Then graduated from Buffalo State with a Master of Science in Creative Studies (an amazing program that teaches skills on how to enhance creative thinking, problem solving and innovation within groups). My passion has always been focused on creative educational solutions and opportunities!

What is your occupation?

I’m a mom to two young children and I also work for a Compliance Company and have the title of Instructional Designer. I use all three of my degrees in a fun way to make e-learning compliance courses for companies all around the world to learn regulations and laws.

Tell us about your family:

I have lived in the City of Tonawanda since 2009. I live here with my husband Tim and our two children, Jayden and Bailey. Jayden is in 3rd grade special education at one of our elementary schools and Bailey is almost 3 years old and is full of energy! You may have seen us hanging out in the fields at Spalding Business Park looking for flowers and deer!

What are your Community Affiliations?

I am:

- One of the “founding mothers” of the recess movement in COT

- A member to the District’s Wellness Committee

- A member to the City of Tonawanda’s Visual and Performing Arts Board

- Co-VP Riverview Elementary PTSA

- Chair for the PTSA’s Reflections Program

- A volunteer in our districts PTSA as well as volunteer time in classrooms

- A lead Art Teacher at the Buffalo Zoo’s Reggio style pre-school program

- Soon to be teaching art classes at the new Explore and More Museum

- A parent advocate for families with children with special needs

I love to share my knowledge and experience with other parents! I believe in nurturing a child’s interest, helping them achieve their goals and build on their innate motivation! So many aspects of my life have been inspired by teachers of my past.

What experience do you have?

I have my formal education in the field of education and child development, as well as several years of experience in the classroom. I have also provided art classes locally for young children. I currently work with a diverse team of clients all over the world to accomplish sales, client-based goals, project management, and create compliance training in the lending and call center industry. I have unique experiences facilitating creative problem-solving sessions helping companies and individuals reach goals, defining problems and providing workable solutions by teaching them to think more creatively. I have 8 years of experience in fundraising, developing, and implementing a curriculum for a humanitarian trip outside of the country to bring art/education to children without (with little to no budget and limited resources.) The last two years I have taken a role within the PTSA to restart their Reflections program, which focuses on students using their creative passion to create a piece of work in multiple mediums, as well as the role of co-VP for the PTSA at Riverview. I also have amazing experiences as a mom to an awesome Autistic son in our school district, who keeps me on my toes and creates a passion to learn more and develop ways to help him reach his potential and find his passion. As well as experience of being a mom to a “wild” 2-year-old who has an amazing sense of adventure, exploration and loves to jump in puddles!


Jeff Thorp

What is your educational background?

I received my Bachelor Degree from SUNY Geneseo and Masters Degree from Buffalo State in Mathematics Education. I have been a teacher for thirteen years.

What is your occupation?

I am a middle school math teacher in the city of Buffalo. In addition to teaching, I am also my school’s Data and Testing Coordinator, Technology Coordinator, and teacher mentor.

Tell us about your family.

My wife, Amanda, and I have two children ages 4 and 7. Our oldest is in second grade at Riverview and youngest is entering kindergarten this fall. I grew up in the Town of Tonawanda while Amanda grew up in the City of Tonawanda. We have lived in the City of Tonawanda for the past 10 years where we and our children have loved attending and participating in many activities our great community provides.

What are your community affiliations?

I’m a member of the Tonawanda PTSA where I have helped coordinate and volunteer with fund raising.

I am also involved with COT Neighbors United where I am co-heading the parks and playgrounds group.

What experience do you have?

As a teacher, I have worked with parents, teachers and administrators for my whole career. I’ve analyzed educational reports and data, often with a team of educators, to plan for my students and have fiscally analyzed between different programs they use. I have numerous trainings in educational best practices. Like most educators, I am often researching for ways to improve as a teacher. I have also trained other teachers in math education techniques and using technology in the classroom. I am also a parent myself, and see how the educational system impacts my own children’s experience in school.

What is your reason for running?

I want to help make sure all of our children receive the very best and most well-rounded education that we can provide. A well-rounded youth becomes a valuable community member. I believe that with the experience and passion that I have being an educator myself, an active community member, and a parent of two young children in our district, I have a unique and knowledgeable voice to add to our board. I’d like to have the opportunity to learn from and work with our current board members to continue to improve our city and give our kids the best education they can receive.


Elizabeth Koch

What is your educational background?

I am a proud graduate of Tonawanda High School. I have Associates Degree in Health Information Technology from Trocaire College

I have also received Accreditation and Certification in Health Information Management.

What is your occupation?

Health Information Managerfor 25 years

Tell us about your family.

Married to George since 1976.

Mother to David, Jenna and Jillian.

Mother in Law to Gary and Sherry

Nana to Austin, Addie, Tristan, Jameson, Henry and Gwenn.

Sister to Chuck and Sue

An Aunt to many nieces and nephews!

And surrounded by many close friends I call family.

What are your community affiliations?

I am one of a few Sponsors for Warrior Walk Wednesday. Our local walking group that highlights Tonawanda neighborhoods and the historical significance of the area.

Volunteer with St Francis OutReach Center for all Holiday Food Drives and Service Fair. I also volunteer for the Back to School Drive and Art on the River. And also volunteer at Partners in Art Studio. I also serve as a mentor to first year Health Information College students through Trocaire College. Also associated with local and national professional organizations for Health Information management.

What experience do you have?

I have extensive budget and capitol project experience through my 25 years with Kaleida Health.

My responsibilities included, managing and administrating multi million dollar budgets for multiple departments, and supervising staff.

The specifics of my career have been paying attention to detail, managing budgets, submitting reports to the state and federal government, adhering to state and federal regulations, developing Corporate policies and working with patients, health care providers and vendors. As a current School Board Trustee I bring my last 3 years of experience as well. This includes but not limited to, reviewing monthly budget statements , policy review and approval, membership on the Erie County School Board legislative and membership team, and review and approval of all district business. The most recent task I was involved in was the search for a new Superintendent after the retirement of Dr. Newton. After an exhaustive search we were able to hire Dr. Tim Oldenburg into our district. He has proven to be the strong leader and educator to move our school system forward.

What is your reason for running?

As a third generation City of Tonawanda resident, my passion, drive and intention is to always work towards making our school district and our community better.

I want to see all our students get the best education, always keeping our taxpayers in mind, supporting our teachers, teachers aides, administrative team, building and maintenance staff, and every other member of the team that represents the school district, while adhering to our budget restrictions. I also wish to continue on the board to see through projects that have been started. I wish to see Tona2020 come to fruition and be part of that success. But most importantly, I am the daughter and sister of a teacher. It is my wish to honor both of their dedicated careers by giving back to the School District, the same school district that gave them their start.

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and my passion for the district.


Daniel Calabrese

What is your educational background?

Graduated from Kenmore West Sr. High School – Regents Diploma
Attended Erie Community College – Construction Technology

What is your occupation?

I work for Nussbaumer & Clarke, Inc. Consulting Engineers and Surveyors, as a Construction Manager/Senior Engineering Technician, Construction Inspector.

Tell us about your family.

I am married to my wife of 38 years, Karen. I have two grown children, Stefan, 33 who is a Pharmacist and Andrea, 29 who is a Project Engineer for a local construction company. Both of our children were three sport students while attending and graduating from the Tonawanda City School District. We have lived in our house in the City of Tonawanda for 32 years. We have two dogs, Rusty, a yellow lab, and Tessa, a black lab/ border collie mix.

What are your community affiliations?

In the past I was a coach and a member of the Board of Directors of the Tonawanda Soccer Club. I am an active member of Saint Timothy’s R.C. Church. I have been volunteering as the Parish Chairman of the Catholic Charities Appeal for the past twenty-five years. I also serve on the Finance Committee there. I was a member of the sports boosters clubs for all the sports teams my children played on. I have volunteered at many school functions over the years including the “After Prom Party”, Christmas for Kids and the Tonawanda Senior Citizens Prom.

What experience do you have?

I previously served on the City of Tonawanda School District Board of Education from July 1999 to June 2008. During that period I served as Board President for
three years and Board Vice President for three years. I am now finishing my latest term on the Board from July 2016 to June 2019.
I have served on most of the School Board Committees over my tenure. I believe my 12 years as a School Board Member is a valuable asset. I have over 35 years’ experience in the construction industry which could be helpful in any future District projects.

What is your reason for running?

I am running again to help the District stay on the right path by providing the children of our community with a good education at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers of the District. I believe a good school district is vital for any community. Without a good school district, families will not move into the community and the community will slowly deteriorate over time. I have no personal agendas and look at the “whole picture” when making decisions for the good of all students and our community.

If elected, I will continue to support and work with the District’s Administration and Staff toward continuous improvement of our District.

Thank you for your consideration.


Danielle Opalinski

I am a 1991 graduate of Tonawanda High School and I attended Buffalo State College. I have been married to my high-school sweetheart for 25 years and we have 6 children aged 11-23, all of which attend or graduated from THS. I am incredibly lucky to be able to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.

Over the years I have served as a room representative many times, also spending time as a weekly classroom parent volunteer. I have been a PTA member and served as recording secretary for several years. For the last 10 years I have been an active participant in the district budget preparations, first as a volunteer and then as a Board of Education trustee. I have served on the last two superintendent searches and volunteer on many other school committees.

I have been an elected board member since 2013 but have also completed two appointed terms dating back to March 2011. Over the years I have served as Board President and Vice-President.

I am running for re-election because I want to continue to be a representative and a voice for our community. These past few years have given me a clear understanding of the difficulties a school district faces. We have an obligation to educate our students but must do so while being responsible to our taxpayers. I have proven to be a hard-working, well-informed, and responsive school board member and I ask for your support so I can continue to be an advocate for our students and community.